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Breast Care After Birth

A few days after your baby’s birth, your breasts will swell with milk. They are likely to feel tender and heavy. This is normal. To help prevent breast soreness and control irritation, follow these tips:

Woman in shower.

Coping with Swelling

  • Use cold compresses or an ice pack to help reduce the ache or pain.

  • Breastfeed often to keep milk from clogging your breast ducts.

  • Squeeze out a few drops of milk if your breasts are so full that your nipples flatten.

  • The best way to control breast problems is to keep your milk flowing. Infections in the breast (mastitis) most often occur when milk collects and inflames the breast’s fatty tissue.

  • If infection does occur, your milk should still be fine for baby.

Preventing Sore Nipples

  • Make sure baby latches on to your breast correctly. The baby’s tongue should always be under your nipple.

  • Rinse your breasts with clean water after each feeding. Let them air-dry.

  • Do not use alcohol, soap, or scented cleansers on your breasts. These can cause the nipples to dry and crack.

  • Do not wear nursing pads that are lined with plastic. They hold in moisture and cause chapping.

  • You can use pure lanolin lotion or cream to soothe chapped nipples.

Choosing a Good Bra

Wearing the right-sized bra is especially important now. If a bra is too tight, it may cause a duct in your breast to clog and become irritated. If possible, have a salesperson help fit you for a new bra. Look for one that’s 100% cotton and without underwires. Also, choose a bra with wide straps that won’t dig into your back and shoulders. If you’re breastfeeding, find a nursing bra that allows you to uncover one breast at a time.

 

If you are not breastfeeding:

  • Avoid stimulation of nipples

  • Wear a tight-fitting bra

  • Apply ice packs for discomfort

 

Call your health care provider if you have any of the following:

  • A fever or chills

  • Extreme tiredness and body aches, as if you have the flu

  • Burning or pain in one or both breasts

  • Red streaks on a breast

  • Hard or lumpy spots in one or both breasts

  • A feeling of warmth or heat in one or both breasts

  • Breasts so swollen your baby cannot latch on to the nipples

  • Nipples that start bleeding

  • Low milk supply or your milk does not flow freely

 

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